Monday, September 6, 2010
First photo- the Kiva style sanctuary of Southside Presbyterian Church
Middle- door to the church- First Presbyterian Church of Ossining
Last photo- our group at the marina
In the last two Sundays, I have been commissioned into service as a Young Adult Volunteer twice more.
Fifteen or so churches in the local presbytery of Stony Point commissioned groups of volunteers. Jorge, who introduced himself as George, drove Aaron (who is serving in San Antonio), Meredith, Luke and me from Stony Point to Ossining Presbyterian Church for the 10:30 worship service. Jorge was very kind and welcoming. We stopped along the way to take some photos- both of the Marina and of the scenic overlook.
We arrived at the church at 10:00 am and met Linda, the pastor. The church is big, beautiful, and full of history. It was started in 1763. During the 1970s, according to Linda, the church was in its prime- with over 700+ members filling the pews. Now attendance dwindles, and membership is around 100.
Those small numbers didn't matter though. The character of the church has been preserved. I walked into the church sanctuary with 30 other strangers, and immediatly felt welcomed. This church had never met us before, but that didn't matter, and they opened their arms to us. We were given the time normally devoted to the sermon during the service to present about the YAV program, what it means, how we got involved, and what we'll be doing while there. After the offering, we walked out of the sanctuary, down the hall, and spoke to those at the Spanish service. This was a welcome surprise for both us and the church. We, the four YAVs, didn't know there were two services at the same time at the church- one in English and one in Spanish. The church didn't know that two of us spoke Spanish fluently, and would be able to tell our story in both languages. The pews of the small chapel were packed. We sat, elbow to elbow, listening as the congregation expressed praywers of sorrow, joy, excitement, and anguish. During the open time of prayer and sharing, we were invited to share with th econgregation again. This time in Spanish. Aaron and I talked a little about the program and what we'd be doing. I tried to say that I'd be serving as a translator, but it was difficult as I had forgotten the Spanish word for translator. Aside from that little flub, I felt really encouraged and supported by this new congregation. The service was a great experience. The character and personality of the church was tremendous. But what really struck me about this expereince was the spirit of the people around us. The congregation was warm and welcoming.
The fourth commissioning was this past Sunday at Southside Presbyterian Church. Again, it was a really great opportunity to share our story with a new congregation. This time, a more local congregation with which we can hopefully get involved. The church is set up like a Kiva, which was also really neat.